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  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph

    Gary Bathalon puts his arm around his daughter, Hannah during Sunday's service at Community Chapel in Nashua.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph

    Brandon Bickom recites part of a reading done while lighting candles during Sunday's service at Community Chapel in Nashua.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph

    Jeff Kleppinger rings a bell in memorial of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 during a service at Community Chapel in Nashua.
Monday, September 12, 2011

Chapel’s service calls for forgiveness, peace

NASHUA – Dan Beckwith doesn’t normally wear his uniform to services at Community Chapel in Nashua.

Sunday was an exception however, as the call firefighter and EMT with the Atkinson Fire Department attended the Chapel’s special Remembrance Service in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

“As an industry, being in the fire service and the medical services, it’s an important day for us,” Beckwith said. “For me, it’s very poignant; my heart is down in New York.”

Though Beckwith said he attends Community Chapel every week, as Sept. 11 fell on a Sunday this year, it was also the best place to spend the anniversary of the attacks, to pray for those who risked their lives, and lost their lives, that tragic day.

“I was sad it happened,” Beckwith said. “I lost 343 of my brothers and sisters that day. But I’m not the type that really goes home and sulks about it. I’m more of a positive person, so I like to think, ‘yes, it happened, and we want to commemorate it, but we can learn from this, and kind of pay it forward, and not really dwell on the tragedy.’ ”

That was the message of the Community Chapel’s remembrance service, too, as chapel singers shared songs like “There She Stands,” “Beauty Will Rise,” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth” to encourage attendees to never forget Sept. 11, but also to forgive those involved and to embrace peace.

“We’ve seen her flying torn and tattered, we’ve seen her stand the test of time,” about 100 attendees sang about the American flag at the 11 a.m. service. “Through it all the fools have fallen, there she stands!”

Throughout the morning, members of the Community Chapel rang a fire bell on loan from the Atkinson Fire Department as remembrance for the lives lost and the men and women who responded to the scenes of destruction.

In a special Litany of Remembrance, adults and children from the Community Chapel led attendees in a series of prayers for victims of the attacks and expressions of gratitude for rescuers on Sept. 11.

“When we recall the thousands of workers – women and men, old and young, single and married, American born and those born in countries around the world – who did not escape the buildings, we can say together, we remember the loss of human life,” attendees prayed.

The Litany also lifted prayers to forgive those responsible for killing thousands of Americans that day.

“In our sadness, horror and shock, we acknowledge that our own fears turn murderous and we have sought revenge, sometimes against even the innocent,” one speaker prayed, as attendees responded, “We confess and regret our own anger and recognize it’s danger of our spirits, our health, our community and others.”

Community Chapel Pastor Geoff DeFranca shared his own memories of where he was, and how he reacted, to the news that America had been attacked 10 years ago, by reading an entry in his journal that dealt with the attacks through Psalm 46 of the Bible.

DeFranca’s sermon, entitled, “Reflecting on the Brokenness; Restoring the Hope,” shared Bible passages and words of renewal, along with images from Sept. 11.

One image, which DeFranca described as “evil in the physical,” showed New Yorkers running through Manhattan, away from the billowing cloud of debris that erupted when the World Trade Center buildings fell.

“It is in that environment of brokenness and darkness and tragedy and difficulty that it is so easy to lose our way,” DeFranca said. “It could be that that dust cloud snowballing towards us is anger and vengeance, it could be that it’s fear and loneliness. If we’re not careful, it engulfs us and we lose our way. Some lost their way because of the debris of that day – the brokenness.”

DeFranca went on to highlight ways to cope with the feelings of hurt and helplessness so many still experience as a result of the attacks, and how to move on in forgiveness and love.

“We need to be purveyors of hope,” DeFranca said. “Maybe we need to do it by building a bridge to another person that’s not like us. Who is it in your sphere of influence that’s not like you? Maybe they’re not the same religion. Maybe they’re not the same race, the same ethnicity. They don’t speak the same language. Maybe they’re not the same socioeconomic class.

“What happens when we begin to follow through on simple acts of service? What is it that you can do that can serve someone where you can take the focus off yourself and serve someone? Maybe that would lift the hope quotient in our world.”

The Church of the Nazarene service, which lasted a little over an hour, ended with choruses of “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

Attendees filed out of Community Chapel into a crisp September afternoon, feeling better than they did when they went in, according to Carolyn McLaughlin, of Brookline.

“I’m very moved,” McLaughlin said, choking up. “I’m wiping my eyes right now. I have a renewed sense of hope that even when the world seems like it’s over – it gave us some hope today.”

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashuatelegraph. Also follow her on Twitter at Telegraph_MAG.